Some of my strongest memories of my father's parents involve food and watching them cook. Ham bone soup, beef stew, angel food cake, and pickled beets are just some of the foods they made and foods I still associate with my grandparents.
My father's family also has a weakness for sweets, particularly cakes and pies. My grandma recently taught me how to make this Butterscotch Pie that she often made to celebrate my grandpa's birthday.
I invited her over to my parents' house for an afternoon of cooking earlier this year and I learned how to make custard and meringue under her expert tutelage. I treasure this time I spent with her talking about her own love of cooking and other stories of her family.
The process to making this pie will be familiar to anyone who's made a cream pie. The filling is a homemade butterscotch custard that gets its flavor from brown sugar and vanilla. A meringue is a great way to top of the pie because you'll have egg whites leftover from the custard, but you can leave it plain or use whipped cream instead.
1 refrigerated 9-inch pie crust
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Meringue (adapted from original pie recipe and Sunset's Pie-O-Neer Coconut Cream Meringue Pie)
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Tip: Use a fork and gently poke the crust at 1-inch intervals along the bottom and sides of crust to keep it from bubbling. Bake the pie crust according to package directions. Let cool completely while you prepare the filling.
2. Separate egg whites from yolks into a small bowl. Beat yolks gently, just enough to break them and mix. Reserve egg whites if you desire to make the meringue. Tip: Cold eggs separate more easily; once separated, let them come to room temperature for the meringue.
3. Cut sugar and butter together in a separate bowl. Add flour to sugar mix and combine well.
4. Add sugar mix to yolks and mix well. At this point it will still be pretty dry.
5. In a small saucepan, combine milk, salt, and water. Warm the mixture over med-high heat until it just starts to bubble. Add sugar mix and whisk until dissolved.
6. Continue whisking until mixture thickens, about 20-25 minutes. You're looking for a thick, pudding-like consistency.
7. Take mixture off the heat and mix in vanilla. Cover with a towel while you prepare the meringue. (If you're skipping the meringue, let it cool completely before filling the piecrust and storing in the fridge. You want to chill it for several hours to let the custard set before serving.)
8. Set your oven to 325 degrees.
9.In a small bowl, mix sugar and cornstarch.
10. In a deep, metal bowl beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed with a hand or stand mixer until very foamy.
11. Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar at a time every 30 seconds to the egg whites. Continue beating until meringue has soft, glossy peaks. When you check the meringue, the peaks should hold for a second or two before folding over.
12. Spoon custard into piecrust and smooth -- be careful as it will still be warm. Spoon meringue on top of pie filling and use a spatula to spread evenly over the pie.
12. Bake pie 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees until meringue is golden brown.
13. Let cool completely on a rack before serving. You can store in the fridge for a couple of days.
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